Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Your Pet, Our Passion.
Dog giving paw Hero

How to Teach a Dog to Give Paw in 10 Steps

6 min read

Whether you’re looking to add another cool party trick to your pup’s collection or just strengthen your bond, learning how to teach a dog to give paw is a great way to achieve both. It’s also one of the easiest tricks to teach them so you’re sure to have a great time doing it, all while your pup gets to show off his ‘pawesome’ skills! 

In this article, we’re going to go through the process of teaching your dog the ‘paw shake’ trick and help you get your pooch to master it in no time. Read on to find out all there is to know about this cool party trick. 

When can you start teaching your dog tricks? 

Teaching your dog tricks, like how to give you a paw, can start as soon as they come home or as soon as they had all their vaccinations, at about 12 or 16 weeks of age. However, it’s never too late for them to pick up new tricks or behaviours so, if your dog is older, it won’t be a problem either.
Pups can sometimes learn new tricks easier and faster compared to older dogs, especially if they don’t have much learning experience behind them, but with patience and time – and plenty of rewards - old dogs can learn new tricks.

Why should I teach my dog paw?

Teaching your dog paw is a great way to build your relationship with your four-legged friend as you spend some quality time with them during the training process. It also helps to boost their concentration, and flexibility, as well as keeping them stimulated. 

What you need to teach a dog paw

Because this is a very easy trick to teach - and will probably be the first trick you both learn, you don’t need any equipment although there are some things that are definitely needed:   

  • A quiet space with no distractions – this will help your pup focus and concentrate on you. 
  • Treats – choose your dog’s favourite treats but make sure these are both tiny and healthy. Things like small bits of cheese can work well - or something else that you know they enjoy. 
  • A well-rested and eager-to-learn pup. Don’t train when they are sleepy or have just had a meal! 
  • A puppy who has already got to grips with ‘sit’ on cue 
  • Time and patience 

How to teach a dog to give paw in 10 simple steps 

Follow these easy steps to make sure your puppy becomes a ‘paw master’ in no time. 

  1. Ask your puppy to sit and reward them for doing this a few times.
  2. Then once they are sitting, take a treat and close your fingers around it so they can smell it but not get to it. 
  3. Get them interested in the treat but hold it quite low – halfway between their nose and their paw. 
  4. Have your other hand (the one you are going to want to ‘shake paws, with), palm open, right beside it or even underneath it
  5. Let them try and work out how to get the treat. They will no doubt try to use their nose or their mouth first. 
  6. Once they discover that won’t work, they will try other things – and one of these will be to lift their paw up to see if scratching at it might work.
  7. As soon as they lift the paw, say ‘paw’ and give them the treat.
  8. Repeat but each time, wait till they lift their paw to your hand (don’t hold it too high – especially if you have a tiny dog or very young puppy). Your aim is that they put the paw on your open hand.
  9. Once your pup has got the hang of this, just hold out your flat hand with no treat. When they put their paw onto it, say the cue word and give them the treat from your other hand.
  10. Practise, practise, practise – until your dog will put their paw onto your hand on the cue word alone.

What to avoid when teaching your dog to give a paw 

To make any training more pleasant and even fun, make sure to keep it simple and avoid putting too much pressure on your pup, or even on yourself. Here are a few things you should avoid when starting training on how to teach a dog to give paw. 

Long sessions  

If your sessions are too long, there’s a high chance that your dog will become frustrated. A dog’s attention span can be short – and a puppy’s even more so – especially when they have to do repetitive things so it’s best to keep the sessions to less than 5 minutes. 

It’s far better to do several very short training sessions on the same day than one long one. Often puppies learn far more if they have a break to absorb what they learnt and come back to the next session far better than they ended the last one.

Training when your dog is tired or sick  

Before starting training, it’s a good idea to make sure that your pup is ready and eager to learn. You want to make sure they are awake and not sleepy - and that you are not training straight after a meal (when they aren’t going to be interested in working for treats).

Also, make sure they have water available and have been to the toilet.

Keep treats small, healthy and tasty

Often people overestimate how big a treat needs to be. A piece of cheese or meat that you use as a reward should be no bigger than half the size of your little fingernail.
When you are teaching a dog to give paw, you will be rewarding them a lot as that is how they learn the behaviours you want but you definitely don’t want them getting either full or fat!
Teaching a dog to give you its paw should be fun and full of positive rewards. Never scold or get impatient with your dog during their training, as this will undo all the hard work you have done, and can make them afraid of training with you in the future. 


All in all, the key to teaching your pup new tricks is keeping it fun. With enough patience and enthusiasm, your pooch will quickly master the ‘paw trick’ and any other tricks you might want them to learn. If you want to teach your pup easier tricks, read our article on the 5 Cool Tricks to Teach Your Dog next.